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Oldham act swiftly following relegation – and manager Wellens offers his thoughts on the club’s situation
Tuesday 8th May 2018 @ 13:07 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Oldham Athletic’s 21-year status as a third tier club came to a disappointing end at Northampton Town on the final day of the season.

Despite claiming a 2-2 draw at the Sixfields Stadium, Richie Wellens’ side were relegated to League Two after Rochdale beat Charlton Athletic 1-0 at Spotland.

Latics have been relegated along with Northampton, Bury, and MK Dons – the latter falling through the trap door on two successive occasions, having been a Championship outfit in 2017.

Oldham’s relegation has forced a change at senior level, as chairman Simon Corney has been removed from his position on the Board of Directors. The club released the following statement on Tuesday morning: “Oldham Athletic can today announce changes at the senior level of the football club. Following today’s Shareholder Meeting, Simon Corney is no longer the Chairman of the football club and has been removed from his position on the Board of Directors.

The club will not make any further comment at this stage.”

Oldham have acted swiftly in terms of player renewals and departures. The club have released Brian Wilson, Tope Obadeyi, Abdelhakim Omrani, Paul Green, Ollie Banks, Mason fawns and Kallum Mantack, while Jamie Stott and Ryan McLaughlin have been offered contracts.

Cameron Dummigan and Ousmane Fane have considered their options, while the club is in discussions with Wilfried Moimbe, Jonathan Benteke and Gevaro Nepomuceno.

Despite taking control of the first team at the end of September following John Sheridan’s sacking, Wellens has been unable to guide the club up the table and his side have continuously flirted with the relegation zone throughout his eight-month tenure.

Following the 5-1 defeat at Rotherham United, which marked the end of Sheridan’s reign in charge, Wellens took charge on an interim basis and guided his side to four consecutive victories in all competitions.

A 3-2 victory over Peterborough United was then followed by a 2-1 win at Portsmouth just four days later. Wellens then guided Oldham to the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy after beating Crewe Alexandra 1-0, before his side inflicted the same score on Blackburn Rovers in league competition four days later.

For a period it looked as if Oldham had finally turned a corner, but they soon returned to old habits and embarked on a five game winless run, which included an FA Cup defeat at Carlisle United in the first round.

Wellens was dealt a blow in the final month of 2017 when Eoin Doyle, who had been instrumental in helping Oldham to numerous key victories, picked up a serious injury which brought a premature end to his loan spell from Preston North End.

Doyle’s return to the Lilywhites in January marked the beginning of a four game winless run in league competition, although his much anticipated return to Boundary Park at the end of the month was soured by the fact he was unable to return to competitive action for a number of weeks.

Upon his return to the squad, Doyle came off the bench to score a goal in the 2-0 victory at Scunthorpe United, before helping his side claw back a two goal deficit to draw 2-2 at Bury in the following game. The result extended Latics’ unbeaten run to five matches and significantly increased their surivival chances.

However, Oldham were unable to rediscover their winning formula and were condemned to their fate on the final day of the season, after claiming just one victory in their final ten games.

Wellens said he was hugely disappointed and apologised to the supporters. “It’s a massive disappointment, and we all take responsibility at the club, myself included as the manager. I make the decisions, and there’s been a lot of mistakes this season and hopefully we’ll learn from them and move on, and hopefully try and make next year a successful season and one where we can take a lot of positives from it and win football matches and gain some confidence from winning promotion.

“We hold our hands up and say ‘listen, things weren’t right from the start of the season, we made a lot of mistakes throughout it and both transfer windows were difficult.”

Although the season has just ended, Wellens is already planning for the future and has set his sights on certain players. He added: “We spoke today about the players we want to keep and the players who we’re going to let go. It’s important we act quickly to try and get the players we want in. I think real players with good character has been missing this season, so we’ll try and get the right characters in and start really quickly in terms of getting the recruitment sorted , bringing players in and sorting out pre-season friendlies, and as soon as it comes to the start of the season we’ll be a big club in League Two and we want to try and win promotion straight away. The feel good factor can come back pretty quickly when you’re winning every week, and hopefully we can go into the following season in League One with optimism for a change.”